Fostering Patient Engagement Through Mobile Technology

As patients seek to exert greater control over their healthcare journeys, healthcare providers are seeing a larger shift to technology. Automated tools have made other aspects of their lives more convenient and patients want to use these types of solutions to improve their healthcare experiences.


Consumers have become increasingly dependent on mobile devices to make travel reservations, order food, bank and video chat. Their expectations for interacting with healthcare providers also have increased dramatically. They look for convenience and simplicity from providers for scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, communicating with physicians and other medical staff and for completing paperwork before appointments.

Healthcare organizations that recognize the shift in embracing technology have the opportunity to streamline care and help patients become more engaged in their own care.

Healthcare organizations that use patient-centric technology tend to have more engaged patients than those that rely on manual, paper-based processes. Satisfied patients are more loyal and often become ambassadors for the organization — helping to attract and retain customers. Staying connected to providers through mobile patient engagement technology, encourages patients to be more involved with their care which ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Mobile options to consider

Patient portals are the most commonly used patient engagement technology. Integrated with electronic health records, patients can access key health information including test results through the portal. In many cases, patients also are able to request prescription refills, pay bills and schedule appointments through their portal. Secure messaging allows patients to communicate with their providers and sometimes can help avoid trips to the doctor’s office or can allow providers to identify potentially serious issues before they escalate.

Two-way patient-provider communication also reinforces that healthcare organizations care for their patients and are invested in their long-term health. By allowing patients to use the portal with their own mobile technology, healthcare providers can make interactions more efficient and effective.

Beyond portals, providers can integrate solutions that enable electronic patient registration and document signing. Leveraging these solutions can smooth patient access and eliminate the tedious process of completing paperwork while waiting to see the doctor. In some cases, patients can even use their personal handheld devices to sign consent forms and complete documents. Some solutions allow patients to register from the comfort of their homes before heading to the healthcare organization — leading to a much more efficient patient experience. These tools also streamline registration for the healthcare organization because the registrar no longer has to manually follow up on incomplete information.

Having information early also allows the provider to better prepare for the upcoming visit — contributing to increased patient safety and a more efficient billing and documentation process.

Patient wellness apps also are an emerging patient engagement technology that present a unique opportunity for healthcare providers. Organizations that access data from these apps can keep tabs on a patient’s health outside of their care visit. Not only are providers able to spot potential problems before they become serious issues, they also can intervene with education, coaching and other strategies to reduce the need for costly visits. They are able to provide a more customized care experience because they have a more longitudinal view of the patient’s health and wellness. Although many organizations are just starting to explore these applications, their use likely will become more prevalent in the future.

Advancements show no signs of stopping

As technology continues to evolve, healthcare organizations will continue to explore and leverage mobile solutions to better engage patients and make care more convenient and efficient. Organizations that embrace this idea can dramatically improve their relationships with patients, making care more accessible and even more effective. The organizations that remain committed to engaging patients using mobile technology stand to better serve their patients with increased satisfaction, cost savings and improved engagement.



  1. Eramo, Lisa A. “How to Improve Patient Engagement through Technology.” Medical Economics, 10 July 2017,
  2. “How MHealth Technology Supports Patient Engagement Strategies.” Edited by Sara Heath, PatientEngagementHIT, 17 Oct. 2016,
  3. Sawesi, Suhila, et al. “The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” JMIR Medical Informatics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.2196/medinform.4514.
  4. “What Patient Engagement Technology Is Good For.” Edited by Sandra Gittlen, NEJM Catalyst, 21 July 2017,


Rewards and Recognition Programs Increase Employee and Patient Satisfaction


Hospital systems face tremendous pressure: changing government regulations, tightening of reimbursements, and an increasingly tight labor market.

Nearly 18 percent of new RNs resign from their first nursing job during the first year—and a third leave within two years. According to the 2018 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $49,500 and ranges from $38,000 to $61,100. This results in the average hospital losing $5.7M. New data from the federal government shows a projected deficit of more than 20,000 physicians by 2025 (taking into account graduate medical residents), according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The U.S. will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 to adequately take care of our aging population, a new report finds.


Providing quality healthcare to patients depends on engaged employees. It is more important now than ever to understand why staff members leave, and how you can attract and retain talented nurses, physicians and other staff. Interacting with patients can be stressful and as insurance reimbursement assumes greater importance on the business side, health care workers are being asked to perform tasks more efficiently and with fewer resources. Consistent and sustained recognition or high-quality work is an important but often overlooked way to maintain high levels of workforce satisfaction.

While the current labor situation in the healthcare industry is certainly driven by the inherently stressful responsibilities of the employees and the aging of baby boomers, the high turnover rate is also caused by a reason that can be controlled – employee recognition and satisfaction. When asking employees why they quit their jobs, 82 percent of those polled report that they don’t receive enough recognition (from Workplace Deal Breakers BambooHR 2014).  According to the Cicero Group, 78 percent of employees are highly engaged when they experience strong recognition, and 65 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized by their employers, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2016.

Underappreciated and overworked employees will never be able to perform to their best. A successful rewards and recognition program decreases turnover, improves outcomes and promotes the core values of hospitals. Staff members are more engaged, work harder, and are likelier to stay when they receive strong recognition, they also provide better patient care. Highly engaged staff can reduce mortality by 7 percent and increase patient satisfaction by 5 percent (see infographic below).


Employee engagement strategies move the needle for employee satisfaction and retention. Healthcare managers should use these programs and combine them with the proper tools, education and empowerment methods to ensure that their employees are engaged with their work.


Execution is paramount for new initiatives to take hold. Recognition programs in the healthcare industry should be balanced between value- and performance-based initiatives.


  • Provide a variety of daily recognition ideas, both non-monetary and monetary, formal and informal. A personal touch goes a long way toward showing employees they are appreciated.
  • Ensure buy-in through manager education and awareness. Make it easy for managers to run reports, receive notifications, and recognize staff within their workflow.
  • Adopt appropriate program technology. A unified and flexible recognition program offers administrators and employees access from any device, making it easy to recognize and be recognized.
  • Review the program periodically and formally to customize goals, initiatives, and rewards.


Hospital systems nationwide have found ways to use recognition programs to not only boost employee productivity and engagement while improving patient satisfaction, but also for improving employee health and increasing brand awareness and consistency across their organizations.

Covenant Health System

Covenant Health System, a large healthcare system in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, found great value in its recognition program and its tie to overall employee engagement. The goals of the program included lowering employee turnover, increasing satisfaction and improving their public image. Program details included a multifaceted recognition program, rewarding specific employee behaviors, and giving employees opportunities to earn recognition points for preventative health care initiatives.

The results?
• Nearly 50 percent lower employee turnover
• 48 percent increase in blood drive participation
• 6 percent increase in wellness program usage
• A nearly $100,000 increase in annual charitable donations to the community

The healthcare organization also used their recognition program to rebrand and unify Covenant’s workforce after a merger. Using a centralized recognition platform connected employees working in different locations across the same network.

Trinity Health System

Employee recognition programs can play a central role in increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. Trinity Health System in Steubenville, Ohio has developed a highly successful employee recognition program, focused on five best practices.

1.  Create an Employee Reward and Recognition Team

Each month, the Employee Reward and Recognition Team meets with managers to discuss what is going well in their areas of the organization.

2.  Measure How Employees Like to Be Rewarded

Trinity Health System gives a motivational assessment to every new hire to identify how each employee likes to receive recognition. The outcomes influence how the organization designs their recognition programs.

3.  Implement Non-Monetary Forms of Recognition

Two central components of Trinity Health System’s employee recognition program are the Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year awards. The Employee Reward and Recognition Team has also developed several other ways to reward staff in non-monetary ways, such as personal thank you notes.

4.  Tie Recognition to Employee Performance Management

Each month, managers recognize outstanding performance and send thank you notes to staff. This information is recorded in the performance management system and is incorporated into employee evaluations.

5. Correlate Recognition Programs with Employee Satisfaction and Patient Experience

Each September, Trinity Health System asks its employees to complete a satisfaction survey and over time, the staff satisfaction ratings have improved. As employee satisfaction scores have increased, so have patient experience scores. (from HealthcareSource Blog)

Taylor Healthcare has partnered with many hospital systems to implement rewards and recognition programs. One example:

A large hospital system needed an innovative way to differentiate its brand in the crowded Northeastern U.S. healthcare marketplace. The hospital network found it difficult to draw attention to its unique programs and services in such a highly competitive environment, and was interested in exploring unique ways to tell its story to the broader community. At the same time, they wanted to boost employee engagement and reduce staff turnover.

Taylor Healthcare developed an “employees as marketers” campaign designed to make the hospital’s employees feel more closely aligned with the organization’s values and achievements. Through an online rewards portal, employees were able to earn points for sharing social media content and watching educational videos, transforming these individuals into informed, passionate and uniquely compelling ambassadors. Employees can redeem rewards points for branded items, giving the network heightened visibility through apparel and promotional items.

The campaign has been an unqualified success. Nearly 60 percent of all hospital employees — more than double the campaign’s goal — have logged into the rewards portal and watched at least one video. In addition, employees have redeemed nearly 3,000 branded items, resulting in countless brand impressions in the wider community.

Adopting a formal reward and recognition program, while requiring a small time and financial commitment, can pay major dividends in terms of greater staff engagement, employee satisfaction and better patient experiences. For information on how Taylor Healthcare can enable your program’s success, visit

The Decline of Inpatient Care

We recently wrote about this trend as one of the largest in the healthcare industry for 2018, but this decline has been observed since the 2008 recession. We wanted to understand the drivers of this trend and how it impacts the future of healthcare.

The Stats

  • The number of inpatient hospital facilities decreased by 6 percent and total inpatient hospital beds have dropped 47 percent from December 1990 to December 2014, according to the CMS.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, the inflation-adjusted mean cost per inpatient stay increased by 12.7 percent, from $9,500 to $10,900.
  • There was an average of 2,174 outpatient visits per 1,000 people in 2014, up from an average of 2,000 visits in 2007.
Infographic source: Frost & Sullivan

The Drivers

1. Patients want cheaper and more convenient care

As patients assume more of the cost of care, ambulatory settings are increasingly attractive. Patients find these settings more convenient, more efficient and less costly than inpatient treatment.

2. Pressure on hospitals to reduce readmissions

The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) was established in 2012 as part of the Affordable Care Act to help patients avoid unnecessary and avoidable hospital readmissions. This program, established in 2012 as part of the Affordable Care Act, penalizes hospitals financially if readmission rates for certain illnesses are higher than expected.

3.  New technology and treatment methods

As modern treatment methods are developed, the need for inpatient care is reduced. Hospital inpatient care has been falling as an increasing number of procedures can be performed at lower costs on an outpatient basis because of technological advances.

New technology has made virtual visits and telehealth more efficient and convenient than traditional medical care.

4. Emphasis on prevention, proactive care and population health

Pay for performance and risk-based contracting provide incentives for systems to invest in population health initiatives as well as preventative care.

How are hospitals responding?

Source: Advisory Board
  1. Better use of staff

Many organizations are accustomed to the fee-for-service environment, relying on a relatively straight-forward staffing structure centered on delivering support to physicians, who conduct the majority of patient-provider interactions.  The future is likely more decentralized, and more focused on population health, with nurses, PAs, care managers, social workers, behavioral health experts, and specialists all deeply involved in coordinating services and achieving goals for an individual patient.

Physicians will partner with patients in healthcare more than ever before. This will create an environment where physicians interact with patients as part of a connected care network.

Flexing, giving fewer hours to some workers, will become more common where necessary. Nurses will provide more care for patients and communities, such as in Nurse Managed Health Centers – NMHCs.

2. Digital solutions

mHealth. Mobile health applications enable nurses and patients to check on health care process on the go. More than 165,000 mobile health apps already exist. Applications will allow nurses to stay connected to patients post discharge via text, email and/or voice, and have the potential to reduce readmissions drastically. Other applications can help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and epilepsy. Some m-health products may prove so effective that doctors begin to provide them by prescription.

3. Extending outside the hospital

Hospitals are increasingly turning to mergers, acquisitions, collaborations and partnerships with ambulatory care providers to have a consistent, integrated approach to managing populations while adjusting to consumerism. This enables hospitals to decongest emergency departments and reduce costs of care while increasing patient volumes by leveraging these ambulatory care centers as referral nodes.

More non-acute care will take place within the community, including at retail clinics, at home and through technology-enabled care such as telehealth and tech-enabled preventative care.

4. Chronic disease management strategies

Patients with one or more chronic conditions can seek care from the nearest retail clinic. Uninsured patients can access inexpensive care and insurers can incent patients to seek care in these facilities as opposed to primary care clinics.

5. Population health initiatives

Providers must work to understand their patient population and what prevalent risk factors are present. Providers can then identify their highest risk individuals and target appropriate proactive interventions as necessary. Depending on the population, targeting smoking cessation, diabetes, obesity or increasing vaccination rates as population health initiatives could lessen the cost of care and lead to reduced readmissions.

Nominations open next week for Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement!

Nominations will open Thursday, Jan. 18, for the 2018 Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement. Sponsored by and Taylor Healthcare, the award is conferred with the National Patient Safety Foundation/Institute for Health Improvement’s Lucian Leape Institute.

The award was created to recognize and showcase the nation’s leading patient and family engagement programs and projects.

Interested organizations may download the nomination form beginning Jan. 18 at

One representative from the winning organization will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the NPSF/IHI 20th Annual Congress May 23-25 in Boston, Mass.

Previous Sherman Award winners include OpenNotes, Iora Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Northwell Health (formerly North Shore LIJ), the University of Rochester Medical Center and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Previous winners and finalists are encouraged to re-submit nominations. Self-nominations are accepted. A panel of independent judges will review and choose the winning program(s) or project(s).



Nominations are due on Thursday, March 8. For more information, email Arundi Venkayya or call 937-902-1411.

Congratulations 2017 Sherman Award winners!

Taylor Healthcare in conjunction with the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute were thrilled to award the 2017 Sherman Awards for Excellence in Patient Engagement to the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. The awards were presented at the 19th Annual National Patient Safety Foundation Annual Congress in Orlando, Fla. on May 18.



The University of Rochester UR Voice team used data and predictive analytics to spur shared decision making conversations with patients about whether a particular treatment or surgery would be good for them.


Holland Bloorview’s Client & Family Centered Care Simulation Development Team created training simulations in conjunction with families to make patient-centric care truly come to life for their staff.

Judges also named three finalists. They are Brigham & Women’s Hospital Patient Safety Team, Dayton Children’s Hospital’s Family Resource Connect and Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Health Professionals Affinity Community.

For more about the winners, please visit


2017 Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement Winners Announcement Thursday!

Taylor Healthcare in conjunction with the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute will present the 2017 Sherman Awards for Excellence in Patient Engagement on Thursday, May 18, at the NPSF Annual Congress.

We are thrilled to sponsor and the Sherman Award and can’t wait to share more details about all of the exciting programs focused on patient and family engagement happening around the world. Check back on Thursday to find out who is being recognized this year!

What We’ve Learned: Recognizing the Best in Patient and Family Engagement Programs created the Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement in 2014 as part of our ongoing mission to share best practices in patient engagement. Very simply, we believe improving communication and boosting patient and family engagement will result in better care, advance patient safety and improve outcomes.

What we didn’t know until we dove into this space is how patient and family engagement cuts across the entire spectrum of care. We continually are impressed by the vast array of programs in acute, ambulatory, pharmacy and long-term care that target patient engagement. Our goal with the Sherman Award is to highlight and honor that work. Reviewing nominations gives us an exceptional picture of work being done in the patient engagement space.

We are now accepting nominations for the 2017 Sherman Award and expect to see a fantastic display of programs, as we have for the past several years. We hope you will take some time during the next few days to identify your best patient and family engagement work. We accept self-nominations, so why not take a few minutes to toot your own horn?

We’d love to learn more about what you are doing. We’ve had unprecedented interest in the award—more than 120 forms have been downloaded. Now, we are asking you to take the plunge and submit a nomination.

Nomination forms are due on Friday, March 3. We will send one person from the winning program (all expenses paid) to the National Patient Safety Foundation’s annual Congress in May.

To help you think about your nomination, we’ve gathered a snapshot of What We’ve Learned from previous winners and finalists. For more details about these and other nominees, please visit the Patient Engagement in Action archive.

Iora Health

2016 Sherman Award winner

Flip care models to better serve patients

Iora Health was recognized for a transformative approach to patient care that focused on building an engaging new model of high impact relationship-centered care with a specific patient population—Dartmouth College employees. The program restructured Iora’s financing model, assigned personal health coaches to each patient and transformed their business and staffing model to truly address patient needs and desires. As a result, the team: increased clinical quality; reduced use of expensive medical services (including hospitalizations and emergency department visits); and enhanced the quality of patients’ care.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

2016 Sherman Award winner

Involve patients in programs and projects from start to finish

A significant portion of the population visiting the Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care are diagnosed and treated for Autism Spectrum Disorder. To ensure the hospital was addressing the unique needs of these children, CHOP’s Patient and Family Experience Team and Outpatient Clinical Service Leadership actively involved patients and families from inception to completion in the design, planning, patient flow layout and construction of the Center.

North Shore LIJ (now Northwell Health)

2015 Sherman Award winner

Don’t take positive patient identification for granted

The North Shore LIJ Health System’s Patient Identification Team focused on a system-wide approach to standardizing patient identification. They involved patients and families in the process and created multiple tools including Eight Critical Elements for Patient Identification and Eight Patient Rights.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Patient and Family Experience and Nursing Leadership Teams

Check on patients in real time

Staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was frustrated by lagging survey data as the source of information about patient and family experience. The staff created Real-Time Patient and Family Check-ins. Nursing and family leaders worked together to determine the best way to connect with families at the point of care while they were at the hospital. The check-ins gave the staff ways to identify best practices and service recovery opportunities and gave them real-time metrics.

 Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital

Empower patients in self-directed care

Hospital readmissions for COPD are often the result of inadequate out-of-hospital care, a suboptimal understanding of the disease or medications and lack of knowledge of the steps for self-care. Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital created a COPD program that empowered patients to participate in self-directed care, improve pulmonary health and reduce preventable readmissions.

 Children’s Hospital of Atlanta

Asthma Center of Excellence

Engage patients on their terms: where they live, learn & play

CHOA’s Asthma Center of Excellence is 97 percent Medicaid and primarily urban, which puts their population at even greater risk for poor outcomes from persistent trigger exposure, substandard housing and social issues. Staff at the Asthma Center of Excellence focused on building relationships with families, addressing barriers, creating regular community outreach and education.

Children’s Hospital of Atlanta

Family Voice

Ask patients to help other patients

As part of its overall strategy to boost patient engagement, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta created Family Advisory Councils (FAC), including seven diagnosis-specific programs and a system-wide FAC. Children’s also launched a Family Mentor Program that partners experienced parents with families of children newly diagnosed. These innovations have resulted in meaningful changes that improve the patient experience and better engage with the community.

Cleveland Clinic

Center of Excellence in Healthcare Communication

Build strong relationships to get patients more invested in their care

Cleveland Clinic’s Center of Excellence in Healthcare Communication’s effort leveraged relationship-centered care to engage patients more effectively with their providers. Building these relationships can be therapeutic for both, foster safety, build loyalty and grow trust if built with effective strategies. Cleveland Clinic transformed an amorphous topic–communication skills–applied a strategy to their entire organization, created a consistent model and gathered data to demonstrate results.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center

Welcoming Policy Team

Let patients decide who are family and when they may visit

Families are essential allies in healing and recovery. To help patients feel more comfortable, Contra Costa redefined family by letting the patient decide who they wanted to receive information about their care. They also expanded their policy to let those family members visit whenever it is convenient for them and the patient. Working to implement the policy has led to more collaborative projects with patients and family members by having them as active members on improvement teams as well as on executive teams.

Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

Develop sustainable programs to put patients at the center of care

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) developed a program that established the first state patient/family engagement advisory council; incorporated patient/family engagement in its hospital engagement network contract; developed an electronic tool for hospitals to assess their success; created a guidebook for members; added patient voices to the HAP Board of Directors; and incorporated patient voices in its website and strategic plan.

Preston Memorial Hospital

Sunday Shoes Program

Remember that not all patients are created equal

In an effort to reduce 30-day readmission rates for heart failure patients, Preston Memorial staff discovered that health literacy was an issue for their heart failure patients. Patients couldn’t tell for themselves when they were gaining significant amounts of fluid weight that would require treatment. Some patients couldn’t afford scales. Others didn’t have the ability to see or read the scales. And some weren’t able to track their weight. The Sunday Shoes Program was a simple way for patients to tell if they had gained weight–if their best shoes were tighter from one weighing to the next.

Virginia Mason Medical Center

Ask patients to help design solutions and bust assumptions

Virginia Mason’s strategic plan puts the patient at the top and sets the direction of providing an extraordinary patient experience and systemizing breakthrough innovations by deliberately incorporating patient and family voices. The Virginia Mason approach uses experience-based design methods to understand emotional experiences and touch points of patients and families, embeds patient-family partners in improvement work and integrates their voices into an improvement methodology: the Virginia Mason Production System.

Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement nominations open now!

Pictured (L-R): Mark O’Leary, president of Taylor Communications with 2016 winners: Joel Lazar, MD, Iora Health, Patricia Richards, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Amy Kratchman, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Tejal Gandhi, MD, president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation, an online community dedicated to sharing best practices in patient engagement, has opened nominations for the 2017 Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement. The award, a partnership between, the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute and Taylor Healthcare, recognizes outstanding programs focused on engaging patients and families in care to improve patient safety and boost outcomes. Nominations will be open through Friday, March 3.

The winner of the 2017 award will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the National Patient Safety Foundation Annual Congress in Orlando, Fla. May 17-19. will feature the winner and finalists and will promote the winning programs throughout the year.

Download this year’s newly streamlined nomination form. Questions? Contact Arundi Venkayya, curator of and Sherman Award administrator or call 937-221-4482.

A Premier Alliance

Man with nurse

Earlier this year, we launched a three-year group purchasing agreement with Premier Inc., a leading healthcare improvement company that operates one of the country’s largest healthcare group purchasing organizations.

We have served Premier alliance members since its inception, consistently introducing new services and technology-enabled solutions to support healthcare providers in their transformation. During the last three years, Taylor Healthcare has saved member hospitals more than $25 million through programs focused on cost management, standardization and process improvement.

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Our Commitment to Patient Engagement

More than three years ago, we launched, a site dedicated to sharing best practices in patient engagement. Since then, we have shared a breadth of information from many experts and thought leaders from throughout the continuum of care about the very best ways to engage patients and families.

We also created the Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement to honor the best programs and people dedicated to patient and family engagement from throughout the country and Canada—programs that truly are making a difference.

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